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One in 20 Australians are prescribed benzodiazepines, such as Xanax and Valium (Bigstock)

A drug overdose claims an Australian life every four hours according to a new report, coinciding with a call by Pope Francis to cast off indifference to the crisis of drug addiction. Source: The Catholic Leader.

An annual report by public health research group Penington Institute shows that 2231 drug-induced deaths were reported in Australia in 2021.

While the report is released this week, Pope Francis also drew attention to the scourge of drug addiction in a message to the 60th International Congress of Forensic Toxicologists in Rome on Sunday.

Pope Francis said we are called to act like Jesus and cannot be indifferent to the situations that lead people, especially adolescents, into drug addiction.

“Behind every addiction there are concrete experiences, stories of loneliness, inequality, exclusion, lack of integration,” he said. “Faced with these situations, we cannot be indifferent.”

The Penington Institute says drug-induced deaths are a crisis requiring greater action from government.

Of particular note are anti-anxiety medications that are fast becoming one of the leading contributors to overdoses and are involved in more accidental deaths than alcohol, heroin or cocaine.

One in 20 Australians are prescribed benzodiazepines, such as Xanax and Valium.

The Penington Institute report found there were 544 unintentional drug-induced deaths involving benzodiazepines in 2021, making them the second-most common drug involved in an accidental overdose death behind opioids.


Report highlights national drug crisis, Pope Francis calls for an end to ‘indifference’ towards drug addiction (By Mark Bowling, The Catholic Leader)